Getting to CEOs Challenging but Possible
Brien Palmer’s article, “Reaching Out to CEOs” (May 2007, p. 32) was very interesting. As a quality manager for 25 years, I found the conclusions interesting but typical.
Most CEOs, I have found, do have the “what’s in it for me and my business” mentality and “why should I spend my valuable and limited time doing this” attitude. This is especially true with the advertising and information overload coming through various media today, as well as the tremendous demands for prioritization.
I also teach quality management at Southern New Hampshire University and have heard my students say the same thing: Quality obviously counts, but where does it fit with the many priorities the CEO and the company have in their strategic business plan?
After all, the company might be too busy to see the forest for the trees; that is, too busy fighting quality related issues to spend time on remedial action. The mentality is similar to the person who knows he or she must go on a diet but won’t take the time to find out how to do it and implement the necessary changes.
The answer, I have found, often comes from why companies are in business—again, to make money. This is done by focusing on the customer, and there lies the answer. If you want the attention of the CEO, get to him or her through the customer. This can be difficult because customers vary, and the approach then has to be tailored (like the quality program itself). This makes the answer much more complex.
The bottom line is: If you want the attention of the CEO, get it through the customer. Many businesses have common customers. Our major customer is Hewlett-Packard (HP), so if I want to really get the attention of my CEO, all I have to do is mention HP. Better yet, if I have a representative of HP do it, it has even more weight.
That is why so many companies have become ISO 9001 registered—not because they wanted to, but because they were often coerced into it by their major customers. It was only afterward that they learned the true value of implementing the standard.
H & M Metals
Fantasy Baseball Article Interesting, but…
April’s “Building a Better Fantasy Baseball Team” (I. Elaine Allen, Kirill Kustov and George Recck, p. 24) presents an interesting statistical take on drafting and managing the offense of a fantasy baseball team.
However, does such an article really belong in a magazine aimed at quality professionals, a significant portion of whom are employed in environments that frown upon—and have even banned—such extracurricular activities in the workplace?
That said, I’m anxious to see a follow-up article that analyzes the statistical nuances of starting and relief pitching.
MARK S. LABORDE
Schriever Air Force Base
Colorado Springs, CO
Quality professionals have use for quality stats in their extracurricular lives, so isn’t it great that Quality Progress offers articles beyond the business realm?
I have a great new database on defensive stats, and I’ll be analyzing that next. We have come up with some better stats to measure the quality of defensive play—not that baseball needs new statistics. And pitching—well, I have analyzed that, too.
I. ELAINE ALLEN
Baseball Article Useful At Work, Too
I found the fantasy baseball article quite fascinating and a useful tool for learning about the application of statistical techniques to a hobby. This is also transferable to the working world and quite valuable.
International Game Technology
Lean, Six Sigma Can Coexist
Dale Gordon did a great job describing the synergistic manner in which lean and Six Sigma methods can coexist in a holistic approach to driving organizational excellence (“Using Lean to Meet Quality Objectives,” April 2007, p. 55).
Unfortunately, too many companies fail to figure this out and allow these two proven disciplines to compete for resources and prominence. An enlightened company places them into its collective toolbox and applies them as required systematically to promote value stream excellence in support of customer and business needs.
One Good Idea Eye Opening
ennis Owens’ “One Good Idea” (“The Probability of Reoccur-rence: P(r),” April 2007, p. 88) was an eye opening article. It got me thinking about what my organization does when faced with customer complaints.
When I receive a complaint, I begin an action plan and analyze it with a cause-and-effect diagram like the one Owens described. I try to find different causes, but, unlike the scary example Owens uses, I usually find one to three causes that have an impact, while other causes are quickly discarded.
Finding six independent causes leading to one direct failure is extremely rare! It’s like getting in a car accident and then realizing it could have been caused by a flat tire, a brake problem or an oil leak. Usually a proper analysis would show that the problem might only come from one of these, while the other causes are reduced to 0%.
In “Six Sigma at Cigna,” (Susan E. Daniels, May 2007, p. 43), the photo on p. 48 shows Cigna receiving an award from ASQ’s Hartford, CT, section, not the North East Quality Council, as the caption says. Also, Cigna would like to credit the photographers for the article. The photo on p. 43 was taken by Carmine Filloramo, and the photo on p. 48 was taken by Paul Deuth.